Club Cowra

Council To Apply For Special Rate Variation

Written by: The Cowra Phoenix

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Following the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART)’s decision to significantly reduce rate increases to 0.7%, Cowra Council resolved at their meeting last week to apply for an Additional Special Variation for the 2022-23 financial year to reach the 2.4% rate increase budgeted for in Council’s current Long Term Financial Plan.

Historically, IPART has rate pegged Cowra Council at approximately 2.4% each year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Subsequently, Council’s current Long Term Financial Plan - which went on public exhibition and was endorsed by Council on the 28th June 2021 - budgeted for a 2.4% annual rate increase over the next 10 years.

IPART decided to change the rate pegs for Councils in NSW and set a rate peg determination for Cowra of 0.7%, significantly below the current CPI and inflation levels being experienced across the country.

“IPART came to the decision of 0.7%, which is totally and completely unrealistic and provided absolutely no clear methodology why they arrived at this decision,” said Deputy Mayor, Cr Judi Smith in moving the motion to apply for a special variation.

“It’s clear to all of us and I’m sure it will be clear to our residents, that when inflation is way above 0.7% and Council costs are also way above that amount, we can’t provide the level of services that people need and that we want to provide, unless we get a special variation,” Cr Smith said.

“Inflation is likely to be above 2.4% before the 10 year period of our Financial Plan has ended. For a regional Council, this has a material impact on operations and services that Council is expected to provide and that our community is entitled to,” said Cowra Mayor, Cr Bill West. “I’m not saying we’re going broke, we’re not. I’m not saying we’re going backwards. But we’re struggling every year to make ends meet because rate pegging provides such a road block,” Cr West continued.

“Only five of the local government areas in NSW kept their original levels of rate pegging, while the rest of the state, including us, were reduced,” said Cr Sharon D’Elboux in support of the application for a special variation.

“To have a reduction from 2.4% that was previously approved by our community, down to 0.7% now is just crazy. I don’t know how any local government area is meant to manage their finances with actions that are imposed on us by the State Government.

Moving forward I hope they come to their senses and relook at this, not only for our Council, but for the Councils across NSW,” said Cr D’Elboux.

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